NEVADA – Mental mistakes doomed the Nevada boys’ basketball team in a 49-38 loss to North Polk Friday at the Nevada High School Field House.
Nevada held a 30-29 early in the fourth quarter, but things quickly went south for the Cubs.
Blake Brauer hit two free throws and a 3-pointer to push North Polk out in front by a 34-30 score early in the final period. With 4:13 left in the third, Russell Greene canned two free throws and Brauer followed with another 3-pointer.
Brett Haun capped an 8-0 spurt with a basket to give North Polk a 42-31 lead. Nevada closed within seven with 2:25 to go, but Russell Greene made a big basket with 1:47 left to regain momentum for the Comets.
Nevada pulled within 44-37 on two Cole Gidel free throws with 1:08 left, but the Cubs scored only one more point the rest of the way, falling to 2-10 both overall and in the Heart of Iowa Conference.
“We’ve played pretty intelligently all year, but we didn’t play very smart tonight,” Nevada head coach Joel Fey said. “We used the whole halftime to talk about what we wanted to do, but when we came out in the second half, it was like the halftime talk didn’t exist.”
Nevada trailed 20-19 at the half. The Cubs played the Comets even in the third quarter as they took a 29-28 deficit into the fourth, but Fey said a lack of execution eventually caught up to his team in the final period.
“We fought back and even took the lead (early in the fourth quarter),” Fey said. “We wanted to do some things late, but it’s just a lack of concentration. If we miss every shot great – the effort is there. But when you don’t execute the things we ask you to do, that is where we get frustrated.”
Fey said the execution errors by the Cubs down the stretch can be corrected. But Nevada doesn’t have much time as the postseason starts in a few weeks.
“We’re 12 games in – they have to start fixing things on their own,” Fey said. “They’ve played enough basketball now that when they see something it can’t directly come from something we’ve worked on. You’ve to got to adapt. They’ve seen every situation we’re going to run into, but tonight we didn’t react very well.”
The Cubs finished with 18 turnovers and they only shot 26 percent from the field. North Polk also outrebounded Nevada by a 24-21 margin.
Defensively, Nevada limited North Polk to 39-percent shooting and forced 21 turnovers. The Cubs also shot well from the line, making 16 of 20 free throws.
Gidel scored 11 points – all coming from the line – as he made 11 of 12 free throws. He also had two steals and one assist.
Alex Merfeld put up 10 points inside for Nevada. Merfeld made 4 of 8 field goals and 2 of 3 free throws and he also tallied seven rebounds and one block.
Patrick Stephenson and T.J. Fey each scored five points and Fey added six rebounds for Nevada. Riley Huhn had two points and five assists, Duncan Westphal and Zach Hansen chipped in two points apiece and A.J. Strottman scored one point for Nevada.
North Polk improved to 7-8 overall and 7-5 in the conference.
Brauer hit 4 of 6 3-pointers and finished with 17 points, five rebounds and three steals for the Comets. Greene posted a double-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds and two steals and Haun added 10 points.
North Polk 49, Nevada 38
NP 10 10 9 20 – 49
N 8 11 9 10 – 38
North Polk (49) – Reed Smith 0-0 0-2 0, Grant Rampton 1-2 0-0 2, Hunter Dark 1-3 0-0 2, Blake Brauer 4-8 5-6 17, Russell Greene 3-3 6-8 12, Dillon McBee 0-5 2-2 2, Brett Haun 2-7 5-8 10, Max Karpinski 2-3 0-0 4, Austin Hillebo 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 13-33 18-26 49. 3-point field goals (5): Brauer 4, Haun. Rebounds (24): Greene 12. Assists (10): McBee 3. Steals (7): Brauer 3. Blocks (1): Brauer.
Nevada (38) – Cole Gidel 0-6 11-12 11, Patrick Stephenson 1-3 2-2 5, Riley Huhn 1-3 0-1 2, T.J. Fey 2-7 0-0 5, Duncan Westphal 1-3 0-0 2, Zach Hansen 1-4 0-0 2, Alex Merfeld 4-8 2-3 10, Jake Barker 0-1 0-0 0, Bennett Thompson 0-1 0-0 0, A.J. Strottman 0-2 1-2 1. Totals: 10-38 16-20 38. 3-piont field goals (2): Stephenson, Fey. Rebounds (21): Merfeld 7. Assists (8): Huhn 5. Steals (6): Gidel 2. Blocks (1): Merfeld.
BAXTER – A great start didn’t hold up for Nevada against Collins-Maxwell-Baxter Jan. 21 in Baxter as a sluggish third quarter doomed the Cubs in a 51-43 loss.
Nevada came out clicking on both ends of the court. Alex Merfeld scored seven early points to help the Cubs get out to a 13-6 lead.
Nevada maintained a five to seven-point lead for the first two minutes of the second quarter. CMB gradually closed within two, but five points from Patrick Stephenson helped the Cubs push their lead back to six before two Bryce Kemp free throws for CMB made the score 24-20 at the half.
The third quarter was a different story.
Nevada got absolutely nothing going on offense against the bigger, more athletic Raider defenders. The Cubs finished with just two points in the quarter.
Kemp scored four points, Tommy Galloway canned a 3-pointer and Seth Balke and Patrick Girard each scored one bucket to help give CMB a 31-26 lead in the third. Austin Moorman then drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Raiders up eight going into the fourth.
In the final period Cole Gidel hit a 3-pointer and Merfeld canned 1 of 2 free throws to get the Cubs within 34-30. But two Kemp baskets regained the momentum for CMB and Nevada never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
“In the first half we went to the basket a lot, but in the second half we went east and west a lot instead of north and south, and we stopped attacking,” Nevada head coach Joel Fey said. “Then we got a little tight. We wanted to keep attacking because we were getting the basket and scoring.”
But Fey said the effort was still a big improvement from when the two teams first met – a 52-36 CMB victory at Nevada.
“We played hard,” Fey said. “They’re a lot bigger than us, but they didn’t dominate us on the glass by any means. We didn’t turn the ball over except for one stretch and a lot of our shots were from around the basket. We did a lot of things really well.”
The loss put Nevada at 2-9 overall and in the Heart of Iowa Conference. The Cubs shot 43 percent from the field and made 7 of 14 free throws and they were only outrebounded by a 22-21 margin.
Merfeld ended up with 11 points, three rebounds and two steals and T.J. Fey added seven points, eight rebounds and three assists to lead Nevada. Gidel tacked on six points and two assists and Stephenson and Riley Huhn netted five points apiece for the Cubs.
CMB improved to 11-3 overall and 8-3 in the conference. Kemp led the Raiders with 13 points, four rebounds, three steals, two assists and one block, Galloway finished with 11 points and three assists and Moorman had eight points and three assists for the Raiders.
CMB 51, Nevada 43
N 13 11 2 17 – 43
CMB 6 14 14 17 – 51
Nevada (43) – Cole Gidel 2-9 1-2 6, Patrick Stephenson 2-4 0-0 5, Riley Huhn 2-6 1-2 5, T.J. Fey 3-5 1-2 7, Zach Hansen 1-4 1-2 4, Alex Merfeld 4-5 3-5 11, Jake Barker 0-0 0-0 0, Bennett Thompson 1-1 0-1 3, A.J. Strottman 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 16-37 7-14 43. 3-point field goals (4): Gidel, Stephenson, Hansen, Thompson. Rebounds (21): Fey 8. Assists (8): Fey 3. Steals (7): Barker 3. Blocks: None.
CMB (51) – Austin Moorman 1-6 5-6 8, Joey Nissen 2-3 0-1 6, Tommy Galloway 2-4 5-6 11, Zach Samson 1-4 2-4 4, Seth Balke 1-2 0-0 2, Bryce Kemp 5-8 3-4 13, Brady Stover 2-3 0-0 5, Patrick Girard 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 15-31 15-21 51. 3-point field goals (6): Nissen 2, Galloway 2, Moorman, Stover. Rebounds (22): Samson 8. Assists (13): Moorman 3, Galloway 3, Balke 3. Steals (4): Kemp 3. Blocks (5): Girard 3.